In bitter windy weather and winter chill
To gather wood for warmth the banks he climbed.
This old man worked, though weak, with hardy will,
His hood all frozen stiff, his cloak white rimed.
“Within these walls the frost bites not my hands,
And in these robes my heart’s not touched by cold,
Unless cold stoniness within a bulwark stands
And walls my heart against that gatherer old.
A King to save me took on man’s weak form,
In weakness braved the curse, my griefs to bear.
Should I, a king, then hide from cold and storm?
For warmth refuse God’s bounty now to share?”
The men below in kitchen bustle, soon hear,
From Wenceslaus a call for flesh and wine,
And up the stairs they bring, right-quick with cheer,
At his command this feast, and logs of pine.
“We’ll bear the feast to yonder poor man’s table
To cheer his home, to blunt cold wind’s fierce blow
My page and I will take all that we’re able,
And make a road across the fields of snow”
The wind then sounded low like distant flutes
Descanting with the tunes the courtiers play.
I wrapped my cloak about, pulled on my boots
And with the king set forth upon our way.
The great black timber gate was iced with white
Sharp shapes, like hoary broken bracken bright,
When through it passed the King and I from sight
Of those who from the windows watched that night.
John Everett Millais, 1857